When you walk through the aisles of beauty stores, when you go to Clicks or Dischem to purchase something. The whole aisle is full of white products. You wait in the aisles, you look for yourself, you look for something that you recognise. And there in the corner, a tiny space for ethnic hair. We started Supermelanin because we were looking for ourselves as Black women; as a nation. But let’s start at the beginning.
The story begins at home, or maybe with your first salon visit, when you learn your hair is not enough. You carried this burden with you. This “not-enoughness” was a weight upon your shoulders. You wanted long hair, hair that moved with the wind, i wanted it too.
i remember my head burning after hours of relaxer. Thick Vaseline lathered on the burns on my scalp. i remember wanting to be beautiful. Beautiful meant long, beautiful meant straight and light, beautiful meant Euro-centric. When men were deciding what beautiful is, we, as Black people, the curls of our hair, the coal of our skin was not invited to the party.
i remember thinking growth was such a bad thing. i remember how my hair would never fully get relaxed, my thick curls would rebel against the relaxer. i remember a friend saying, “You’d be so beautiful if you relaxed your hair.” In my head i thought, why can’t i be beautiful like this. i was 11, i think.
The interesting thing is that we are Black women, in a Black country, but we don’t belong to ourselves. We are strangers in our own bodies, in our country, strangers to our own hair. My friend said she can’t remember ever having curly hair, she doesn’t know what it feels like. We’ve always been hiding ourselves in a corner, we’ve always been trying to make ourselves smaller. We’ve always been apologising for existing. We’ve always been the other.
The other day with the Pretoria Girls High School Uprising, News24 tweeted the word “ethnic”. Ethnic hair in a country that is mostly ‘ethnic’? No. i wanted to make conscious decisions about my hair. i know, i know, some people will say i’m being essentialist, just because your hair is relaxed, doesn’t mean you’re not woke. i get it, i get it. i get that natural hair takes a lot of maintenance, but so does everything that’s worth it. But the most important aspect for me is knowing that i’m in charge of me. i’m in charge. i make the decision to perform my femininity the way I want to. Not because of a naturalised system that calls Samantha beautiful and Thando ugly. It is your choice. You define beautiful for you. You do. You believe your hair is nappy, coarse hair, kroes, and “oh my God- can i touch it?” because you’ve been told so. Everyday we’re flooded with a society that hates us. We have to make the conscious decision to love us. i love us. i love me.
The conversation around black hair has always been linked very closely to political economy. An afro has come to symbolize radicalism. An afro has come to symbolize resistance. The currency we traded in was whiteness, and that made our black skin poor, that made our knowledge of ourselves broke. And there it was, this “not-enoughness “ surfaced again.
As black people we need to define ourselves again for ourselves. We need to be the creators of our own identity, the authors of our own imagery. We’ve been looking in a white mirror for too long.
We are still aching from the wounds of apartheid, and colonialism, and it’s a deliberate decision to love ourselves. That’s why we started Supermelanin. We wanted to learn how to take care of our hair and take you on our journey of discovery. What does it mean resisting being dominated by cultural imperialist ideals? What does it mean to be mentally and socially liberated. What does it mean to transcend centuries of inferiority? We’re here to realise a dream once deferred, and no, we don’t have all the answers. But can a sisterhood, a brotherhood of blackness come together and do the most? Hell yeah.
Your hair defies gravity, it grows towards the sun. Why does it do that? Why is it so different? Why can it mimic everyone else yet can’t be mimicked? Our hair contains the DNA for greatness, the chromosome for excellence as Black people. Our hair is the beginning, the origins of originality.
All Hail Shea Butter!
Let’s talk shea butter. Shea butter is known as women’s gold and my God, it is. You’ve probably seen it everywhere even on relaxer boxes (side eye). Shea butter has about 21 uses: it’s great for strengthening and moisturising your hair. And your hair needs moisture. One of the major reasons why Black hair doesn’t grow is moisture. Hair needs moisture, just like your body does. That’s where shea butter comes in. It seals in moisture and makes sure moisture doesn’t escape.
Shea butter also works as a sunscreen which protects your hair from the sun. Supermelanin shea butter is packed with delicious hair oils like coconut, olive, and essential oils to keep your hair soft, to strengthen it, because we know how fragile natural hair can be.
Coconut oil is a a healer. While some people wish they could pour coconut oil on their debt, cheating exes and evil bosses, we’re just using it in our hair and skin. Coconut oil helps to thicken hair and helps it grow longer and stronger. It’s also great for keeping your scalp on top.
Lavender and Rosemary Oil
Okay, let’s talk about which essential oils are killing the game. Lavender and rosemary oil are literally everything. Both stimulate hair growth and healthy hair, both have antibacterial properties, both are certified bad asses. Lavender oil has been used for years to combat baldness and fast-track your hair growth. It’s also great for soothing your scalp and healing infections.
So let’s kick it. Best way to use this?
Spray your hair with your daily spritz. You can melt a little between your hands and rub it between your hair, focus on your ends, they are the weakest and oldest and ready to retire. Go ahead and tip your head forward touching your knees and massage your scalp for 2 minutes (This is honestly the best thing an who doesn’t like a head massage?). Then do two strand twists or braids and wrap your hair for 30 minutes or overnight.
You can also use this shea butter as a pre-poo. What’s a prepoo? It’s like prepping your hair overnight before you shampoo it. Since afro hair shrinks in the presence of water, too much water though can cause it to become bloated. Weird right? It’s called hygral fatigue. Oils like shea and coconut help to combat this phenomenon. Not to mention, your hair will feel softer.
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